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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Mumbai schools also set to reopen for higher classes

Parents still worried over sending children back to school even as 15.7 lakh students returned to state board schools on Monday.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai | January 6, 2021 11:44:08 pm
Maharashtra Schools reopening BMCThe civic body will place an order of 75 lakh reusable face masks for the next two years. The BMC will spend about Rs 20 crore on the purchase.

AS 15.7 lakh students from Classes IX to XII returned to state board schools in various districts on Monday, many schools in Mumbai too seem prepared to reopen for higher classes in a staggered manner. The spread of Covid-19, however, still remains a matter of concern at most parent-teacher meetings and parents remain divided over children physically attending school again.

School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad said on Wednesday that schools affiliated to the state board across various districts, barring Mumbai and Thane, are being reopened in phases for students of Classes IX to XII. She added that 88 per cent schools in the state had reopened.

While the BMC decided not to allow schools in the city to reopen before January 15, school principals across different education boards said some parents, especially of Class X students, feel they needed to be back in the classroom as board examinations draw closer but just as many were still worried about Covid-19.

Gaikwad on Wednesday said 19,524 state board schools in the state had resumed classes for students of Classes IX to XII. “The improving attendance of students across districts is good news. The increasing attendance of students has been possible because of the effort and co-operation of teachers, officers, local administration, students and parents. Safety rules are being implemented strictly,” Gaikwad said in a tweet.

Earlier, Gaikwad had said deliberations over reopening schools for Classes V to VIII will also be held with experts. According to the school education department, there are 22,204 state board schools in Maharashtra, in which 56,48,028 students study in Classes IX to XII. Of these, 1,802 schools are in Mumbai and 7,51,242 students are in the Class IX to XII group.

Class X examinations of Secondary School Certificate (SSC) will be held after May 1 and Class XII Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examination will be held after April 15, Gaikwad had earlier said. With only a few months left for board exam preparation, principals of many schools in the city feel students need to come back to school at least for practical examination preparation.

Kalyani Arumugam, principal of SIES High School (SSC) in Matunga , said although teachers had prepared videos to help students in higher classes perform their science practicals, students who needed more attention or an extra push will find it harder in an online classroom.

“The concern we have is that children may not always follow distancing norms. They may be overenthusiastic, may hug each other. This was also discussed in the PTA meeting and many parents still have concerns about sending their children to school. At least for Classes V to VIII, most feel that we should not take the risk.”

Anvita Bir, principal of R N Poddar School (CBSE) in Santacruz (West) said, “We need to get back but in a staggered form. We don’t know how it will pan out but we need to take small steps towards it. Even if we start, it will be a hybrid format because some parents may still be concerned about their children returning to school. So teachers too will have to recalibrate their days for the offline-online model. It would be better to start with Classes VIII to XII. Since we are at the end of the academic year, it is not critical for younger children to get back to school now.”

Sona Mattoo Dhingra, principal of Children’s Academy School in Kandivali (East), affiliated to the ICSE Board, said, “There are many parents, especially of students in senior classes, who want school to resume because they feel that the physical touch is important but there are many others who are still cautious and worried about sending their children to school. Even when we reopen, we will divide students into batches. We are just waiting for directives from the state government or the BMC.”

Dhingra said it was about time both teachers and students returned to the classroom as safety measures were well in place. “It was long enough long back. The (pandemic) situation in Maharashtra was so bad that we could not even think of bringing the students back to school. It’s almost 10 months now. Since board exams are approaching, parents are worried about practical exams because certain things can only be done in a laboratory. Online exams don’t give a real sense of where the student stands. The physical presence of the student really matters.”

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